Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Bad Sign for Planned Parenthood

Representative Renee Ellmers (R, NC)
whose campaign promise to investigate
Planned Parenthood has resulted in the
Susan G Komen for the Cure Foundation
pulling support for Planned Parenthood
I have long been concerned about breast cancer.  I have lost a number of friends to this disease and have always encouraged other friends to have their mammograms on a regular basis.  And I have always supported groups like Susan G. Komen for the Curea foundation—the leading foundation—to fight this disease.  I did have concerns about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Organization having ties to Planned Parenthood.  Many of the foundation’s affiliates funded programs for breast cancer awareness, screening, and treatment through local Planned Parenthood outlets.  Those concerns were not enough for me to stop supporting the foundation.  In many places—especially among the rural and urban poor—Planned Parenthood is the only place women can turn for health issues.  I regret that.  I don’t like Planned Parenthood.  Even beyond its (extremely) pro-active approach to “abortion rights,” Planned Parenthood has a sordid history going back to its founder, Margaret Sanger, who in a desire to “assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit” was a proponent of eugenics.  Nevertheless, for some women, thanks to the inadequate health care available to the uninsured in our country and the unwillingness of so many who have to provide for those who have not, Planned Parenthood is the only one there to help women with routine gynecological care.  I would not support Planned Parenthood directly but my concern for the defeat of breast cancer impelled me to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure regardless of its affiliations.          It was announced yesterday that Susan G. Komen for the Cure is withdrawing its support from Planned Parenthood.   Supposedly this is because the foundation has a new policy barring grants to organizations under Congressional investigation.  A number of Republican candidates ran for House seats in 2010 with the promise to launch a House investigation of Planned Parenthood.  Chief among these is Roman Catholic Renee Ellmers of North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional district.  Ellmers entered politics because of her opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.  Representative Ellmers’ husband is a surgeon and they have a lovely home.  Ellmer’s 2010 campaign in which she successfully unseated Representative Bob Etheridge focused almost solely on the issue of affordable Health Care and was particularly dirty.  However, the investigation of Planned Parenthood was launched by Representative Cliff Stearns, a Presbyterian, who is chair of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.  There are serious questions about Planned Parenthood and its compliance with regulations regarding use of federal funds as well as allegations of systematic fraud and abuse in its financial organization and its cover-ups of human trafficking.  These allegations are nothing new and regardless of political bias should be investigated. If there is no problem Planned Parenthood will have its name cleared, but I wouldn’t bet on it.  I suspect—with the historian’s suspicion and not merely a biased cynicism—that Planned Parenthood like the Catholic Church has allowed its own institutional self-interest to take precedence over its altruistic mission.      
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure 's new regulation prohibiting funding for organizations under Congressional investigation is itself a cover-up.  No one—including Planned Parenthood—believes it.  Planned Parenthood is screaming that the funds were cut because of pressure from Pro-Life Groups on the foundation.  And it is true.  Many individuals as well as organizations had stopped contributing to Susan G. Komen for the Cure because of its links to Planned Parenthood.  Catholic groups in particular were withholding support.  Parishes were refusing to sponsor events and Church bulletins were warning parishioners about the links between Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood.  That an organization like Susan G. Komen for the Cure would yield to such pressure is a clear sign that while the institutional levels of the Church may not have much clout anymore, the grassroots still do.  That is something to pay attention to.  I think the current Administration has judged the American Bishops to be a bunch of toothless old men whom they need not fear and I don’t think they are too wrong on that, but if the rank and file Catholics can be organized and motivated they would still be a force to be contended with.   

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